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Diary

In this blog we are posting news from around the network, reflections on general news items and other broad-ranging items of interest. Current contributors are Sightlines Initiative directors Robin Duckett, Liz Elders, Debi Keyte Hartland and Chris Merrick.

Education is in the beauty of life

Biodiversity: "we are all in this together."

Around fifteen years ago I was in my second year of biological studies at the University. I was in Italy, specifically in Tuscany, a region worldwide known for the splendour of its Renaissance art. At that time, lecturers used to took students to nature observing it for long periods: memories of my ramblings in woods looking for living creatures, from plants to microscopic animals, are still sculptured in my mind. Seeing and studying the multitude of life in all its forms and "in the field" was the guiding experience that brought me to become a biologist with a deep urge to understand biodiversity and work out solutions to preserve it.

This interest took me and my family around Europe, giving us the possibility to live in Germany and now in UK, working with colleagues from all around the world. Meanwhile I became a mother. Facing the responsibility of what education implies, I felt the urgency to re-think the responsibility of each individual in its daily life in a wider perspective and thus the importance of education in our society: we are taking the responsibility to build a sustainable society, if we want our Planet and us to survive.

From my point of view, that of a biologist and a mother, we take care of the Earth as much as we take care of our children and thus education. And the other way around. So, we have the huge duty to educate our children to take care of our Planet and its biodiversity, which sustains us every single day. In other words, we have the responsibility (and the honour!) to facilitate the love that every human being innately has for nature. When during my work I try to work out solutions to communicate awareness of Earth's biodiversity to every people, the light that leads me is ultimately the same that led me many years ago in those woods in Tuscany while I was studying the brimming of life. This light is made in its core by the sense of beauty – the same that probably inspired many Renaissance artists, like Leonardo or Michelangelo!

How do we communicate children caring for the Planet Earth? How do we let children thrive this light? Giving them time and space to nurture and let flourish the sense of beauty that they innately have in a nutshell since they are born: experiencing nature every day, playing in nature, trusting their ability to relate to nature.

Children's innate recognition of beauty and educational work that supports this have been widely studied and enlightened by eminent protagonists of the Reggio experience. 

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Lost and Found

in Tryon Creek Park: Brent Wojahn/The Oregonian

In our professional development work we are often talking about the importance of being prepared to 'get lost'; ready for the unexpected, the new view, puzzle, and encounter.

A Sightlines' Community member has sent us this poem, following a discussion about the value of getting off the path, immersed in the experience of deep woods (we were investigating a possible woodland to use for a Learning in Nature course next year.) 

A most wonderful reminder, I thought: here's to us all taking those steps: adults and children, adventuring.

I hope you enjoy it too:

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Look what We found! Hearing Children's Theories

Educators, and schools, are often very keen to listen better to children: however there are often many day-to-day impediments; these are many and they include the general culture of education, its organisation and management. 

In our coursework we work to tackle all these. another is simply experience - we are unused to doing it.

​As adults we need to develop our habits and opportunities to listen and explore our ideas - in order to get nearer to the ideas of the children: this is perhaps the central necessity in 'developing environments of enquiry.'

Here is something for you to look at and try, individually or with colleagues (discussion is of course done better with others!) 


At our recent annual development meeting, the Sightlines Members group and Network representatives viewed a short observation and discussed it. We found it a very rich experience, debating our thoughts and different insights for nearly two hours before having to stop for the day. 

We invite you to do the same, and - if you are a Sightlines subscriber - you can also read the notes we ourselves made (in the resource library.) Read on to see the clip and the approach we suggest you take for reflection and discussion:

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